Comedian/actor Matt Walsh
hosts this month’s charity auction at Amoeba Hollywood July 7 at 4 p.m., where the store will be auctioning off concert tickets for upcoming shows by Ariel Pink
and The Black Keys
, as well as gift certificates for Trader Joe’s and Urban Outfitters, signed collectibles and more. Proceeds from the auction benefit Camp Crescent Moon, the nation's first and oldest summer camp for children with sickle cell anemia.
Walsh is one of the founders of the Upright Citizens Brigade
, the comedy troupe that started in Chicago in the early ’90s and has seen such alumni as Amy Poehler, Horatio Sanz
and Adam McKay
, in addition to opening theaters in New York and Los Angeles hosting live shows and improv classes. Walsh also starred in the TV version of “Upright Citizens Brigade” on Comedy Central with Poehler, Ian Roberts
and Matt Besser
. Walsh has been in such Todd Phillips films as Old School
, was a correspondent on “The Daily Show,” recently released on DVD his directorial debut with High Road
, starring Ed Helms
and Lizzy Caplan
, and now stars in HBO’s “Veep” alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus
. His Comedy Central show “Dog Bites Man” hit DVD in June, detailing a hapless local news team’s fruitless attempts to portray hard-hitting issues, co-starring Zach Galifianakis
, Andrea Savage
and A.D. Miles
. I sat down to speak with Walsh a bit about that show and his career thus far.
Me: Are you excited about “Dog Bites Man” coming out on DVD? Have people been asking you when it’s going to come out?
Walsh: I’m really excited about because I’m pretty sure a lot of people never saw it. I thought it was a really fun show to make, and it was a great cast, obviously, but I think it was a really interesting experiment in television, and I’m glad it’s out there in some form.
Me: Did you guys watch a lot of local news clips on YouTube or local talk show clips while making the show for inspiration? Did your work on “The Daily Show” factor in when making “Dog Bites Man”?
Walsh: Yeah, I think my experience on “The Daily Show” helped me own like a reporter persona and know what is silly about news. I think a lot of the story ideas came from — I think local news covers the mundane. I think there’s a simple truth to that. So a lot of the stories we came up with were mundane or classic retreads of safety issues or community issues or things like that. There’s one episode where we went to visit the KKK, but I don’t think it ever aired and I don’t think it’s on the DVD.
Me: Can you talk a bit about your role in Ted
? I think a lot of “Family Guy” fans are wondering what to expect from the movie.
Walsh: I think it’s Seth’s sensibility in the movie, so I think there are a lot of hard laughs — things go on for too long, a lot of obscure references. It’s a little sweeter, more driven by emotion [than “Family Guy”]. But I’m sure true fans of the show will find similar stylistic choices. In general it feels much more like a movie than an animated half hour. I’m in a few scenes, I play Mark Wahlberg
’s boss at a rental car agency. I think I’m hot shit because I’m friend with Tom Skerrit
. I basically keep flaunting that in front of him, that he’ll never be friends with Tom Skerrit.
Walsh: How much are you allowed to do improv on “Veep”? Can you talk a bit about how that show comes together?
Walsh: We spent probably three or four weeks rehearsing before we shot anything. We would get scripts and put them on our feet and perform. … I think once they saw our take on the character, they’d take the scripts away and rewrite them and you’d see some of the jokes you heard in the room. … On the day [of filming], we were always doing two or three improv takes where we hit the points, but we were able to have fun and explore.
Me: How did you put High Road
together? As the film is based on improvisation, did you rehearse a lot or just keep filming till you found something you liked? And what’s the response been like?
Walsh: High Road
came about because I’ve always been a fan of the improv movie. I love Christopher Guess
movies like Spinal Tap
, so that was my goal at some point, put all the funny improvisers I knew into one movie. We took 70 scenes, spent two weeks at the UCB theater introducing the characters to each other. … By the time we started filming, they didn’t have to make anything up. … Generally we would kind of hit the takes and get pretty tight and hone what we like, and then if there was something new, we’d explore a tangent. We had jokes for certain scenes to make sure there were hard laughs in the movie. And it’s been really well-received. I got an award at the Newport [Beach] Film Festival lat year. … We’ve done like four or five film festivals and did a brief theatrical run in L.A. and New York, and then it came out on DVD.
Me: What else are you working on these days?
Walsh: I have a couple of movies I’m trying to get off the ground. We go back to “Veep” in October, so hopefully in the next couple months I’ll be shooting a small indie comedy. I’m going to New York for the UCB festival this weekend, and enjoying the Valley heat.
Me: What do you think UCB means for L.A. comedy?
Walsh: Hopefully UCB comedy means good comedy. It’s all things funny. We have improv, standup, sketch comedy, musicals, one-person shows … the formats are wide open. It’s not limited to one specific style. I think the quality’s good, it’s really competitive to get in there. … We try to stay in touch with what’s new and what’s out there. … I think people take it real serious and enjoy it. The other benefit is the audience has been trained. It’s not like they have to pay 20 bucks and buy two drinks. I think the audiences are great and are more game, more open to the wonderful expectation of “I’m not sure what’s its going to be, but I know it’s going to be funny.” I think that’s a wonderful environment for a performer to step into. I think that’s the other blessing of L.A. is that on any given night, there are established comedians looking to get on stage, whether it’s Patton Oswalt
or Paul F. Tompkins
or Sarah Silverman
. We’re really fortunate that our theater pool is so great because there are so many great people looking to get on stage every night.